January 12, 2022

Alan Shell, Director of Continuous Improvement (CI) at DVIRC, is an expert in process improvement and developing individuals, teams, and organizations in their CI journey by utilizing his Master Black Belt skills in Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing.

Whether he’s helping companies figure out where they are in their Lean journey or helping them start from scratch, Alan provides consulting services including hands-on, onsite training and development to manufacturing companies across a wide array of sectors. Alan specializes in helping organizations discover the dollars that would be better suited to support new products, new equipment, new market development, and employee training, or that can contribute directly to the bottom line.

We sat down with Alan to discuss his CI services with DVIRC, which helps businesses reduce waste and meet demands from clients.

What’s your day-to-day work like as a CI expert?

I have three main roles at DVIRC: Proving training onsite at DVIRC, off-site at clients’ facilities, and of course, consulting work. Working with DVIRC, our clients can hire us to teach them how to implement Lean and Six Sigma programs in their work or hire us to come in and do the work for them through a hands-on partnership.

For our consulting services, I enjoy being on-site and working directly with clients to solve issues right away. Through consulting, I lead Kaizen events, a common Lean Manufacturing process that gets the team together to identify and prioritize areas of opportunity for improvement within the business. I also work specifically on targeted problems that clients are experiencing because they don’t know how to fix them on their own or don’t have the time to be trained on how to fix them. Either way, the client leaves our partnership having more knowledge than when they came into it. When a client calls me months later after an engagement to share their successes, that’s what makes it all worth it.

How do you start with a new CI client?

Sometimes a client will come to work with us and will know what they’re looking for, whether it’s a problem like they have too much scrap in their process, or their on-time delivery rate is 50% or less. Other times, they share some of the challenges they are facing and we work with them to identify the areas of opportunity for improvement for them. Either way, they know that DVIRC’s manufacturing expertise can help get them to where they want to be. Our team will come in for a consultation and find out what the baseline is. Then I can provide very tailored strategies that are customized for that manufacturer’s challenges.

For example, sometimes I’ll say, “this project requires three days of consulting to fix line seven,” or in other scenarios, the team will need to be trained on implementing Lean Manufacturing to start a 5S program. An example of a custom solution we provided is seen through the work I did with our client, Ehmke. I was able to come in and observe the manufacturing process on the shop floor to understand how materials flowed and where waste was in the process. With this information, they found areas where efficiency could be improved.

What are some of the issues that clients are dealing with right now?

The labor shortage is an area of opportunity for clients, and I say “opportunity” because as manufacturers, we are in a position where we have more work than ever, just not enough people to get the job done. However, DVIRC’s Lean and Six Sigma consulting and training services provided can help with labor shortage issues because we can teach your organization how to optimize the workforce it has in order to eliminate waste and increase on-time deliveries.

How do you help clients solve these issues?

Once the team understands how the client’s current process works, they often implement specific strategies and tools from Lean and Six Sigma to help clients deal with their issues. For instance, with Ehmke, I was able to implement  5S, a Lean tool designed to improve workplace organization and standardization. Ehmke came to us because they had just received a massive order and needed to get the job done with the people they had on staff. Ehmke needed to create a 10-25% increase in throughput, which meant they needed to improve their operations and reduce waste. That’s exactly what DVIRC does. So, throughout the 5S process, the team systematically sorted, cleaned, and organized all items and materials.

After working with DVIRC to improve efficiency, Ehmke was able to exceed the standards of the order. Through implementing our waste cutting strategies provided by Lean Manufacturing services, Ehmke also experienced 42% sales growth without needing to increase employee headcount.


To learn more about how DVIRC and our expert consultants can provide on-site services designed to eliminate waste and improve your bottom line, please contact us. Our partnership can create a plan customized to your organization and its opportunities.